Tony Bennett (basketball)

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For the currently active basketball player, see Anthony Bennett (basketball).
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett UVA 2014.png
Bennett in 2014
Sport(s) Basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team Virginia
Record 111–60 (.649)
Biographical details
Born (1969-06-01) June 1, 1969 (age 45)
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Playing career
Green Bay
Charlotte Hornets
Sydney Kings
Position(s) Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Wisconsin (asst.)
Washington State (asst.)
Washington State (assoc.)
Washington State
Head coaching record
Overall 180–93 (.659)
Accomplishments and honors
ACC Regular Season Championship (2014)
ACC Tournament Championship (2014)
Naismith College Coach of the Year (2007)
Henry Iba Award (2007)
AP Men's Basketball Coach of the Year (2007) National Coach of the Year (2007)
ACC Coach of the Year (2014)

Anthony Guy "Tony" Bennett (born June 1, 1969) is an American men's college basketball coach and current head coach for the Virginia Cavaliers. He was named the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Basketball Coach of the Year, and previously at Washington State he won the Henry Iba Award and was honored as the AP National Coach of the Year, Naismith College Coach of the Year, and Coach of the Year in 2007. In 2014, he was named by ESPN as #14 of the top 50 among all college basketball coaches, two rankings above ACC rival Roy Williams of North Carolina.[1]

In earlier days, he played collegiately for the Green Bay Phoenix and professionally for the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. As a player, he won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1992 and ranks, as of 2014, first all-time in NCAA Division I for career three-point field goal accuracy, at 49.7% (minimum 200 made and 2.0 made per game).[2]

Now perhaps the best known member of a talented coaching family tree, he is the son of former Green Bay and Wisconsin Badgers coach Dick Bennett and brother of current Northern Illinois women's basketball head coach Kathi Bennett.


Playing career[edit]


Bennett's retired UWGB jersey

Bennett, a point guard, played for his father Dick Bennett at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (UWGB) following his high school career at Stevens Point Area Senior High and Preble High School. While there, the Bennetts led the Phoenix to an NCAA Tournament berth and two appearances in the NIT. During his time there, the Phoenix had record of 87–34 (.719) en route to Bennett being named conference player of the year twice. He won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award given to the nation's most outstanding senior under six feet tall and was named the 1992 GTE Academic All-American of the year. He also started for a bronze-medal winning 1991 Pan-American Games team led by Gene Keady. He finished his collegiate career as the Mid-Continent Conference's all-time leader in points (2,285) and assists (601). He still ranks as the NCAA's all-time leader in 3-point percentage (49.7) (minimum 200 made and 2.0 made per game).[2]


Bennett went on to be picked 35th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. He spent three seasons (19921995) with the Hornets before a foot injury abruptly ended his NBA career. He briefly attempted a comeback and played 10 games for the Sydney Kings in Australia's National Basketball League season in 1997.[3]

Coaching career[edit]

Washington State[edit]

Bennett began his college coaching career at the University of Wisconsin as a member of his father's staff. After his father retired, Bo Ryan retained Bennett on his staff. Bennett remained with the Badgers until 2003, when his father came out of retirement to coach Washington State. In 2004, Bennett was designated as his father's successor, being named from an assistant coach to an associate head coach,[4] and he inherited the position of head coach at Washington State University when his father retired after the 2005–06 NCAA season.

His 26 wins in both the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons each tied the Washington State school record set by the 1940–41 team[5] that lost in the championship game of that year's NCAA tournament.

2006–07 season[edit]

Tony Bennett led the 2006–07 Cougars basketball team to a 26–8 (13–5 Pac-10, second place) record and the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Cougars earned a #3 seed and defeated Oral Roberts in the opening round before falling to Vanderbilt in double overtime in the second round.[6] Bennett tied the WSU school record for wins. The NCAA tournament appearance was the first for the Cougars since 1994.

After the 2006–07 season, Bennett was named the AP college basketball Coach of the Year[7] and the Naismith College Coach of the Year. He also won the Henry Iba Award by vote of the United States Basketball Writers Association, and was named the Coach of the Year.[8]

2007–08 season[edit]

During the 2007–08 season, Tony Bennett finished with a 26–9 record (11–7 in the Pac-10). He also went on to lead the Cougars to the Sweet Sixteen after beating Winthrop in the first round and Notre Dame in the second.[9] After losing to North Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen, Bennett's team had tied the school record for wins, with 26, for the second consecutive season.

2008–09 season[edit]
Bennett in 2009

Having lost several key players to graduation the year before, Tony Bennett finished the 2008–09 WSU season with a 17–16 record (8–10 in the Pac-10).[10] His team missed the NCAA Tournament, but qualified for the NIT as a #7 seed, losing to #2 seed St. Mary's in the first round.[10]


Bennett was named head coach at Virginia on March 31, 2009.[11] His team began coming together later the same day, as Ritchie McKay, then head coach of the Liberty Flames, stepped down from his position to become Bennett's associate head coach.[12] In 2009–10 the Cavaliers got off to a 5–2 start in Atlantic Coast Conference play, and 14–6 overall, but dropped their next 9 conference games and finished the season 15–16 (5–11 in the ACC).[13] Despite much of his first recruiting class decimated by transfers,[14][15] in 2011–12 Bennett led the Cavaliers to a 22–10 record and Virginia's first NCAA tournament berth in five seasons. They lost in the Round of 64 to Florida. In 2013 Bennett became an assistant on the U-19 Basketball team that won the gold medal at the World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic with UVA sophomore center Mike Tobey on the team as well.[16][17]

In 2013–14, Bennett led the Cavaliers to only their second-ever outright ACC regular season title, clinching the victory with a convincing 75–56 late-season win against ACC newcomer Syracuse. It was also only the fifth time in the last 34 years that a team from North Carolina has not won at least a share of the title. UVA also won its second-ever ACC Tournament title (and first since 1976) on March 16, 2014, beating Duke 72–63. Tony Bennett's father and coaching mentor, Dick Bennett, was in attendance at the game. They received a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament—their third ever—and advanced to the Sweet 16.

On June 3, 2014, Bennett signed a new contract with the University of Virginia, which would extend his employment through the 2020–21 season. It included a $1.924 million base salary package, with additional longevity bonuses.[18] Part of his contract negotiations also included contract renewals for his staff.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Bennett is a Christian. Bennett has spoken about his faith saying, "When you have a relationship with Lord, there’s a peace and perspective you have. The world didn’t give it, and the world can’t take it away."[20]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Washington State Cougars[21] (Pacific-10 Conference) (2006–2009)
2006–07 Washington State 26–8 13–5 2nd NCAA Second Round
2007–08 Washington State 26–9 11–7 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2008–09 Washington State 17–16 8–10 7th NIT First Round
Washington State: 69–33 (.676) 32–22 (.593)
Virginia Cavaliers[22] (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2009–present)
2009–10 Virginia 15–16 5–11 T–9th
2010–11 Virginia 16–15 7–9 T–7th
2011–12 Virginia 22–10 9–7 T–4th NCAA Second Round
2012–13 Virginia 23–12 11–7 T–4th NIT Quarterfinals
2013–14 Virginia 30–7 16–2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2014–15 Virginia 5–0 0–0
Virginia: 111–60 (.649) 48–36 (.571)
Total: 180–93 (.659)

      National champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ Top 50 coaches: No. 14 Tony Bennett, accessed September 9, 2014
  2. ^ a b 2013-14 NCAA Men's Basketball Records - Division I, p.2 – Individual Records
  3. ^ Kings emerge from a pack of jokers -, Retrieved March 26, 2012
  4. ^ Family Afffair: Bennett to hand job to son - Men's College Basketball - ESPN
  5. ^ Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Washington State Cougars - NCAA Tournament Game - Recap - March 22, 2008 - ESPN
  6. ^ Washington State Cougars Basketball 2006-07 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  7. ^ Washington State's Bennett second rookie AP Coach of the Year - NCAA Division I Mens Basketball - News, Scores, Stats, Schedule and RPI Rankings
  8. ^ College Basketball - Coach of the Year: Tony Bennett
  9. ^ Washington State Cougars Basketball 2007-08 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  10. ^ a b Washington State Cougars Basketball 2008-09 Schedule - Cougars Home and Away - ESPN
  11. ^ Washington State coach Tony Bennett headed to Virginia - ESPN
  12. ^ McKay's departure stuns LU | The News & Advance
  13. ^ Virginia Cavaliers Schedule - 2009-10, accessed November 10, 2012
  14. ^ Tony Bennett not sweating transfers - College Basketball Nation Blog - ESPN
  15. ^ Virginia Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett says freshman James Johnson will transfer - ESPN
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Tony Bennett Receives New 7-Year Contract". 3 June 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  19. ^ Goldberg, Rob (3 June 2014). "Tony Bennett Signs 7-Year Contract with Virginia Cavaliers". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Coach's Profile: Tony Bennett". 
  21. ^ "2011-12 Washington State Cougars men's basketball media guide, page 60". Washington State Athletics. 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  22. ^ "2012–13 Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball media guide, page 43". Virginia Athletics. 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 

External links[edit]